April 08, 2022 – Redge
Brian Poe-Llamanzares' political, entrepreneurial, and philanthropic course at 30 reveals his vision for a more involved future.
“An idealistic, driven young man with a passion for public service,” shares Sofia Santiago, who first met Brian during his mother’s inaugural senatorial run in 2013, and currently serves as Senator Grace Poe’s social media head. “He leads with conviction and clear vision which people can easily get on-board and follow.”
And yet nine years on, after winning that election season with a landslide and accepting his role as Chief-of-Staff, despite all his tenacity, intelligence, and charisma— Brian Poe reveals that it hasn’t been easy. “Something I quickly discovered was that the government sector wasn’t as organised as the private sector.”
Coming from a business background at Columbia University, Brian fought an uphill battle convincing public servants to swap their t-shirts for a standard uniform to “represent the highest legislative office in the land.” He’s also gotten pushback towards implementing key performance indicators, yearly assessments, and attendance— practices which are basics for business, yet foreign for government.
Dr. Robin Michael Garcia, a close associate and founder of W&R, mentions that the young Poe’s management style is akin to “Harvey Specter and life coach, empowering people and knowing the right strategies to get things done. A perfect combination.” Brian’s focus on advancing the team as a whole has helped his mother’s office towards increased efficiency and unity. As an example, “one of the key pieces of legislation we’re proud to have passed is the Public Services Act— which will massively help attract foreign capital, resulting in more local job creation and a more rapid pace in economic recovery,” he shares. “I am not a lawyer. The credit really belongs to our amazing legislative team. I am not versed in the legalese behind bills,” he admits, despite rattling out key provisions in the aforementioned law, “my strength is in support— consulting with the business sector, raising awareness, hearing grievances or concerns, and smoothing things out.”
Yet, for all his experience as his mother’s Chief-of-Staff, Brian Poe confesses that he still considers his title as a “glorified alalay (an up-jumped aide).” Unsurprising, given that the just turned 30-year-old Poe-Llamanzares considers humility a core trait he inherited from his late grandfather— the much-beloved actor, Fernando Poe Jr. “In victory, humility” he mentions in a TV interview.
It's a legacy he's determined to do justice to not just in public service but in the private sector, as well.
Faye Abrihan, COO of Brian Poe's Oracle Media Group and one of Brian's closest friends says that whether in business or public office, he not only encourages but makes people believe in a bigger vision. "Even with a lot on his plate, he's never too busy to personally take care of the people around him," shares Faye, "since (back in 2012) when I first met him, Brian is still the same-- always putting others first whether through kind words of encouragement, emotional check-ins..or the lamest tito jokes!"
This levity inspired Brian's choice of industries. "Good on people who are into Crypto and such, but my focus is more on building jobs. If someone has a good idea, I want to have the capital to help them grow, or if I don't, I try to connect them with people who can." His stated life mission, to "promote Filipino talent, businesses, and local artisans," continues to this day. And to date, he's shown no fear in leaping headlong into any industry he fancies. His ventures include: A-Team 360 - a company that caters to any on and off-line communication strategy and reputation management businesses might need, A3 group which handles end-to-end marketing, pr, and events services, Oracle Media Group, which holds titles such as Rapid News, Let's Go Media Group, Negosyante News, and Alike Media as subsidiaries, Emporium - which is a manufacturing firm that counts Time Master watches, Someday Maybe clothing, and J. Recon Tailors as brands, Brooklyn Social - a revolutionary barberdashery/speakeasy along Katipunan that caters to the modern gentleman, Hammer Gaming which is home to - West Point Esports the country’s leading league of legends team poised to compete in the South East Asian Games this year, Axie scholars, and soon - a racing team.
"I'm looking into pooling together enough sponsors to build an SR1 racing team and compete in the first ever SR1 cup in the country," muses the starry-eyed entrepreneur-- who dreams of the country hosting its own formula 1 someday. "Imagine the jobs and tourism we'd attract for that event alone," he shares, before rattling off figures on team drivers, the “build build build” possibilities of race tracks, and first-class FIlipino mechanics who're pirated by foreign teams. "And also I don't mind getting paid in siomai," he said distractedly, when asked about a picture of him eating on the race track.
For someone who's just entered his 30s, where most are looking to change course and eventually settle down, it seems Brian's momentum is only increasing. "I just feel that there is so much life ahead of me. There are all these opportunities opening up and I don't want to miss any of them." He realises that his 20s were a struggle because he didn't have the connections needed to make his ambitions a reality. "Now, as my network grows and matures, things are getting crazier and crazier. It's just so hard to say no to all the potential right now…"
Ironically, while he can be considered adept at entrepreneurship, Brian's trademark humility still shows, mentioning that he often delegates operations to those he trusts, and still does government work better than he runs businesses. To this end, he also invests time and energy in that middle ground of public and private - the non-governmental organisation, or NGO.
Personal Response Ability
Known as "Ang Probinsyano," Brian's grandfather was known on the silver screen as someone who was the archetypical Every-Juan. He lived a simple, honest life but when wrongdoers sought to take advantage of people - he immediately stepped in to alleviate the suffering of many. Fernando Poe Jr. also stepped into the shoes of "Panday'' or "blacksmith" in movies-- a hero who wielded a mythical blade to slay evil wherever he found it.
Brian continues both, in some fashion. For the NGO he chairmans, "FPJ Panday Bayanihan" roughly translates to "forging heroism" - deals with disaster relief and, like its namesake hero, comes from humble beginnings.
"When we first started, we were very informal, delivering sacks of rice to one town or another. However, now we get to send relief goods to 7 or 8 different provinces." To assure the private sector that its sizable volume of donations were reaching the proper places, Brian in 2019 finally incorporated everything. "Now when people see my grandfather's face and (screen name) on the banner, they know that we're there for them. They know that help is coming."
It's a heartwarming activity that Brian spends a considerable amount of time on, and one that he feels would do his grandfather proud. "Not many know this but FPJ was an entrepreneur. (His company), FPJ Productions-- was the first major indie outfit in the country, and employed more than 200 people directly or indirectly through his movies."
There is a level of heart in his words that belays the gravity of what the young panday yearns for, for local government is often underpinned by a hierarchical system of entrenched politicos who expect first dibs on goods, til relief trickles to those who need it most. "That happens," confesses Brian, "but when we show up, we just say we're not there for politics, we're just there to help." Thankfully, his network and suave have often soothed tempers from 'tampo' or 'hurt.' "It's all a matter of knowing the right people to talk to, and talking to them well," he says, spoken like a true gentleman.
If The Stars Align
By any measure, the term "gentleman" would suit Brian Poe. Style aside, he believes that the term's trademark form should only be an indication of what a true gentleman embodies-- heart.
"It's less the look, and more of the way you carry yourself. Deliver on things you promise. Treating others with respect. One of those things that’s under-appreciated is genuine concern for the people you work with - people you’re not even familiar with - going out of your way to help them - treating them better."
It's this heart that motivates all his endeavours.
"He's shy but high-spirited, a visionary I share a dream with-- to change the country," says Jyleazar deal Rosa, Senator Grace Poe's Chief Political, "he makes sure that people around him meet their fullest potential, by providing them with opportunities that lead to development."
And sure enough, despite his commercial and NGO activities, Brian reveals that his heart will always belong to government first. "It's where we can do the most good," he says. And while he intimates a desire to help through public service, he admits that part of it is destiny. "Ultimately, the people choose. All we can do is be prepared to serve."
For that, he looks to the stars to guide him. Whether they be his grandfather's legacy, or recent talks with Elon Musk's Starlink, or colleagues from NASA, where he interned for awhile-- Brian's dream day involves him waking up and being part of making things happen, by having helped build everything he touches.
"I imagine one day waking up to news from a media company I helped make, wearing clothes I helped tailor, and surrounded by businesses I helped build."
Rosemary Anne Tolentino, who handles Alike Media, says that Brian is "very data driven, 'calculated risqué,' and moves based on proven formulas but isn't bound by them. He allows 'new' to exist," also sharing that "when we first met, and invested in us, I didn't know if he was being courageous, supportive, or plain crazy. Over time I realised he's a bit of all three-- and I love him for it!"
From a Columbia alumni with western education, through nearly a decade of government service, developing networks in industries that have slowly linked together, to spending copious amounts of time on a non-profit devoted to disaster relief, for someone who's just turned the big 3-0, the only phrase Brian Poe can use to describe everything is: "It feels kind of fun."
When asked what to expect in the years to come Brian says he’s just getting warmed up, he cheerfully quipped, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”. With more of his signature hard work and humility, the next decade promises to be even more exciting.
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